…and so the Long Decline begins (and the catch up continues).
London Stock Exchange-Deutsche Boerse deal blocked by EU.
EU regulators have blocked London Stock Exchange's £21bn merger with German stock exchange Deutsche Boerse. The European Commission said the deal would have created a "de facto monopoly" for certain financial services. The merger would have combined Europe's two largest stock exchange operators. London Stock Exchange Group said it "regrets" the commission's decision, as the deal would have created a "world-leading" financial markets firm. The commission blocked the deal, which had already been thrown into doubt by Brexit, shortly before the UK started the formal process of leaving the European Union. It is the third time that a merger between LSE and its German rival has failed to come to fruition. They announced plans for a "merger of equals" about a year ago, following attempts by Deutsche Boerse to strike a deal with LSE in 2000 and 2004. However, the merger was dogged by questions about where the joint firm would be based and how it would pool liquidity between the exchanges. Those questions intensified after the UK voted to leave the European Union. "Timing is everything," said Neil Wilson, an analyst at ETX Capital. "Brexit effectively killed this deal off nine months ago, so it's fitting that EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager delivered the coup de grace just a couple of hours before the UK triggers Article 50." LSE warned last month that the deal was unlikely to receive EU approval over concerns that it would limit competition.
Insurer Lloyd's of London 'to open Brussels office', say reports.
Lloyd's of London will establish a new European base in Brussels to avoid losing business when the UK leaves the EU, according to press reports. The company has not confirmed the decision, but said it would make a statement on Thursday. The insurer has been weighing up different locations on the continent. Without the move, the company said Brexit could have a significant impact on its continental business which generates 11% of premiums. The insurer was due to ratify the decision on Wednesday, according to The Insurance Insider, which first reported it. Brussels had been chosen over the other shortlisted locations, including Luxembourg, thanks to the presence of EU politicians and regulators, according to the Financial Times. Other financial institutions are also planning to relocate business within Europe. Several investment banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley are considering relocating staff to Dublin. Frankfurt, Madrid and Amsterdam are also likely to benefit. HSBC is expected to move significant numbers of employees to Paris.
Brexit: Trade and security go together, Fallon says.
It is "very important" to link trade and security in the UK's Brexit negotiations with the EU, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has said. The talks must cover both issues, as "those two things go together," he told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show. Sir Michael said "we would all be worse off" if no Brexit deal was reached. When it triggered Brexit last week, the UK said co-operation in fighting terrorism would be "weakened" if a deal was not agreed. The government has said the line in its official Brexit letter was a statement of facts, not a threat to the EU ahead of talks beginning. In response, EU leaders said there could be no attempt to "bargain" between trade and security. Sir Michael said: "It's very important to link trade and security because what we are now looking for is a deep and special partnership that covers both economic and security co-operation. He said he was "absolutely" proud of that link, adding: "It's very important that we go on committing to the security of the continent." Asked if failure to secure a deal would make the EU less secure, he said: "We would all be worse off it there wasn't a deal. We are expecting to have a deal." Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry told the BBC's Pienaar's Politics the government was "clearly" using the UK's military strength as a "bargaining chip".
Brexit: EU wants 'divorce bill' settled first.
A tale of two sentences, drafted in two different capitals, exposes the clear blue water between London and Brussels. In Theresa May's letter triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty she states: "We believe it’s necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.' But Donald Tusk responded today: "Starting parallel talks on all issues at the same time as suggested by some in the UK will not happen." Bluntly, the divorce bill would have to be settled before talks on trade can begin. What's more, only one party to the break-up, the European Council, would decide if the settlement is good enough. This rebuff was always likely, and the Downing Street response restrained - in effect, reminding us we were simply at the beginning of the negotiating process. So no flames fanned, but it may not be long until Theresa May feels the heat. Ahead of a divided Labour Party in the polls, she may be at the zenith of her political popularity. Because now her own party's apparent unity is set to be tested.
Two-fifths of gaming firms 'could relocate over Brexit'.
Some 40% of British gaming companies say they are considering relocating some or all of their business because of Brexit. Companies cited losing access to talent and funding as major risks when Britain leaves the bloc. A survey by industry group Ukie polled 75 of the more than 2,000 games firms in the UK, most of which worked in development. The government said it hoped to "continue to attract" global talent. A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: "The UK's creative industries are one of our biggest success stories, and we want to make sure the UK remains a world leader in video games production. As the prime minister made clear, we will continue to attract the brightest and best global talent. And we will continue to work with our creative industries to help seize the exciting opportunities that will flow from a new place for Britain in the world." It is currently conducting a review of the creative industries. Ukie said this week it wanted to work with the government to "shape a favourable post-EU landscape for our world-leading games and interactive entertainment businesses". Sales of UK games hit £2.96bn last year - more than from either video or music.
All details above from BBC News website.
[Most of the Brexit news coming out of Westminster and Brussels right now is essentially mudslinging or accusations of mudslinging – usually from the British side. Talk of the EU ‘teaching us a lesson’ and through that teaching the rest of Europe who might be thinking about thinking about leaving just how painful it’s going to be. We are, essentially, a test case of what happens when one country decides to leave. It’s never been done before, it’s not going to be easy (especially when we seem to be dragging our feet in the hope of getting a better deal just to get rid of us) and we have, much to the Europeans exasperation, yet to take the whole thing seriously. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with an attitude like that?]